Archikulture Digest

The Drowsy Chaperone

The Drowsy Chaperone

Music and Lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison

Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar

Directed and Choreographed by Earl Weaver

Starring Alex Bair, Caitlin Doak, Tyler Beauregard and Sandia Ahlers

UCF Conservatory Theatre, Orlando FL</strong>

What better way to deconstruct Post Modernism than to dissect a classic Over-The-Top 1920’s musical? The gags and songs and self-reference never stop, and when you’re done you know nothing about literary criticism but you’ll have your choice of hummable tunes for the ride home. We open with the sad little Main In A Chair (Bair) he’s boarded up in his apartment, cut off from society and suffering nonspecific sadness and non-specific sexuality. His only solace is a stack of vinyl discs, each containing a soundtrack that your parents thought ancient. He’s folded away his fourth wall and invited us to take a tour of his favorite show: “The Drowsy Chaperone”. In this engaging bit of fluff showgirl Janet (Doak) is retiring from the stage to marry the oil money of Robert (Beauregard) while her ex-boss Feldzieg (Luis Traps ) argues to keep her on stage lest he get worked over by gangsters (Jay Pastucha and Jason Osorio). Janet can’t see Robert on her wedding day; it falls to Chaperone (Ahlers) to keep them apart, assuming she’s sober enough to do so. Feldzieg induces lothario Aldolpho (Fredy Ruiz) to seduce Janet but he bags Chaperone instead, and then everyone gets married including a few folks I can’t fit into this narrative. The Man in Chair helpfully starts and stops the action; explain fun facts about the cast like “Aldolpho was partial consumed by his own poodles when he died.” It’s that fine grained detail that makes shows come alive.

I admit I’m partial to this script; it’s full of solid music and does away with all those dreadfully slow plot sections of the big MGM musicals. While I find our Man In Chair is a bit young he’s nicely vulnerable and reedy. Doak’s Janet sings and dances like an old hoofer and you want to see her back on stage as soon as she divorces poor old Robert. He’s nice but interchangeable with his best man George (Tony Pracek) although both of them can tap up a storm in their signature number “Cold Feets.” Our Chaperone steals scenes and gets arguably the best number with “As We Stumble Along” and when Aldolpho beds her you know they each deserve the other. Another solid on stage pairing comes from Feldzieg and his under skilled girlfriend Kitty (Anna Robbins). They’re based on the old comedy team of Burns and Allen, although he’s got a darker edge than old George B. Other notable supporting actors include Trix the Aviatrix (Reca Oakly) as well as Underling (Austin Powers) and dotty Mrs. Tottendale (Anna Carol). Beware the spit take scene.

This is a brilliant and exhilarating production. The UCF scenic staff (Joseph Rusnock and Sara Morgan) created a visually stunning set full of surprises and there are never any slow moments. On one level this is classic mindless forget-your-troubles song-and-dance but on another it’s a loving recreation of what made those old Broadway shows and their film descendent entertaining: they reflect our lives and our prejudices and use humor to make a point no one would listens to in a lecture.

For more information on UCF Conservatory Theatre visit http://www.theatre.ucf.edu


Recently on Ink 19...

Dark Water

Dark Water

Screen Reviews

J-Horror classic Dark Water (2002) makes the skin crawl with an unease that lasts long after the film is over. Phil Bailey reviews the new Arrow Video release.

The Shootist

The Shootist

Screen Reviews

John Wayne’s final movie sees the cowboy actor go out on a high note, in The Shootist, one of his best performances.